More than 1,500 Uttlesford children are living in poverty, says charity

poor, sad little child girl sitting against the concrete wall

poor, sad little child girl sitting against the concrete wall - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

MORE than 1,500 children in Uttlesford are living in poverty, according to new figures released by the Campaign to Stop Child Poverty.

Approximately nine per cent – which is roughly 1,582 – of children in the district are living below the poverty line.

The statistics, calculated by researchers at the University of Loughborough, show huge inequalities across Uttlesford.

Number crunchers combined figures on households out of work with figures of those claiming tax credits and on low incomes.

They classified children as being in poverty if they live in families which receive out of work benefits or claim tax credits where their household income is less than 60 per cent of average income (£27,500).

The figures for Uttlesford are not as high as some areas in the country – which are pushing 50 per cent or more children living in poverty – but a closer look at the ward breakdown statistics show a big divide across the district.

Stansted South is the ward with the highest number of children living in poverty (22 per cent), which is in stark contrast to Stansted North (below five per cent).

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Saffron Walden Castle scored 14 per cent, Shire ward eight per cent and Audley ward seven per cent.

The areas of Uttlesford with the least amount of children in poverty are Littlebury, Wimbish and Debden and The Chesterfords. Each ward scored under five per cent.

But Birchanger and Takeley the Canfields don’t fare so well with 14 per cent, tying the second worst in the district.

Enver Solomon, chair of the campaign, said: “The child poverty map reveals the depth and breadth of child poverty across the country and the gross levels of inequality that children face in every region.

“Whilst the levels of deprivation in the east of England are not as high as other parts of the country, there are still far too many children whose parents are struggling to make a living.

“They are having to go hungry and miss out on the essentials of a decent childhood that all young people should be entitled to.”

Cllr Ray Gooding, cabinet member for children’s services at County Hall, said the figures were a concern.

“Essex County Council recognises the significant impact growing up in poverty can have on children and young people and their outcomes in life.

“That’s why we’re working with other organisations and authorities in the county, such as Uttlesford District Council, to work to reduce child poverty in Essex by 2020.

“It is a matter of getting the support for those people that need it and bringing levels of employment up, as well as improving health benefit and economic development.

“The county council supports a number of initiatives to tackle child poverty, including up to 15 hours of free early years education per week for disadvantaged children. We are also delivering support for children and families through the 86 Children’s Centres that we have throughout the county.”

Uttlesford has the lowest percentage of children in poverty across Essex but is tied with neighbouring South Cambridgeshire, while East Hertfordshire fairs only marginally worse at 10 per cent.

The manager of Uttlesford Citizens Advice Bureau has pinpointed the district’s rural nature as was one of the major factors impacting on child poverty.

Kate Robson told the Reporter higher transport costs, living costs and houses prices were some of the explanations for the figures released by charity Campaign to End Child Poverty.

“It is significantly more expensive to live in rural areas and therefore the figures represented may actually be higher. There is less opportunity for children to go to after school clubs, meaning it is more difficult for parents to work, and the rural location stops people accessing services,” she said.

“There is generally a low uptake in benefits in rural areas, a lot of the time due to the lack of knowledge about them, so when these figures are used to measure levels of deprivation it can skew the true reality of the problem.”